Bringing back Harry and Louise

“No mandates” is at least a respectable opinion.
Fear-mongering is not a respectable tactic.

Not being a credentialled health-policy expert, I’m not sure how seriously to take the “mandate” question.

On the one hand, HRC is clearly right that adverse selection is a problem now, and would be a problem even if premiums were “affordable” by some objective standard. On the other, since she hasn’t defined the sanctions backing up her mandate, we don’t really have any way of judging whether her plan would leave more or fewer people uncovered than an Obama-style plan with a penalty (“back premiums,” he said last night) for people who wait until they get sick to sign up. [Contra Ezra Klein, I don’t think this can fairly be called “harsher” than punishing people now for not buying insurance they don’t want. It’s hardly “harsh” to say that people who need health care, and who chose not to insure themselves, should at least have to go back and pay the premiums they should have been paying all along.]

In any case, at least some of my elders and betters in health-care wonkery think the question is overblown. So I don’t count a mandateless health care plan as a major problem with the Obama candidacy.

But running fear-mongering ads against what may turn out to be a necessary component of a national health-care program seems to me both ethically questionable and politically tin-eared. This is just not the argument Obama wants to have, any more than Iraq is the argument HRC wants to have.

Kevin Drum speaks for me: “Yuck.”

I’d like to hear Obama say that the flier was over the line and is being pulled.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

One thought on “Bringing back Harry and Louise”


    Well, Krugman is swiftboating Obama again. This time he has denounced the Illinois Senator for what he calls an “ugly mailer.” Here’s first page of Obama’s ”ugly” direct mail ad:
    Having trouble figuring out w…

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